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Simplifying Fractions

I taught my lesson on equivalent fractions to Mr . Bruss’ fourth period class on
Monday, September 25th. There were seventeen students in class that day and the class
ran from 11:45 until 12:50. Going into the lesson I had a few basic goals: to present
myself as a knowledgeable authority figure, to maintain behavioral control over the class,
and to deliver the concepts associated with equivalent fractions in such a way that
students could successfully complete the exit card at the end of class. Prior to the lesson,
I discussed what I would cover with Mr. Bruss. We decided that it would be too much to
introduce the greatest common factor method of simplifying fractions, and both found
value in the extra game playing time. Aside from that small change, I carried out the rest
of the lesson as planned.

Mr. Bruss and I had discussed giving the period four class assigned seating the
morning of my lesson because of their constant rambunctious behavior. This proved to
be a very valuable choice, as the students were extremely well behaved during my lesson
and have definitely settled down immensely since they began sitting in their current
locations.

I started off the lesson with the paper folding activity which proved to be very
beneficial to the students. As we were talking about the number of sections the paper had
and what fraction of the paper was shaded, I noticed many students experiencing a “light
bulb” going on. The fact that I had given the students the opportunity to discover
something from the very start contributed to putting me at ease for the remainder of the
lesson. I went back to the example of one half throughout the lesson as I guided students
into realizing that they could both multiply and divide to obtain equivalent fractions. The
answers I was receiving from students were for the most part correct, which gave me
reassurance that they were understanding the concepts. After what I thought to be a good
amount of practice problems, I explained the equivalent fractions go fish game to the
students. I then had them count off and placed them into five groups. As I circulated the
room I noticed that many groups were really understanding the concepts and having fun
with the game, whereas a few students in a few groups did struggle. About two minutes
before dismissal, I had students write down their homework and complete the exit card.

Overall, I felt that the lesson went extremely well. I had the opportunity to
discuss it with Mr. Bruss immediately afterwards, and he helped confirm my confidence.
I truly thought my lesson had many strengths. First and foremost, I felt one hundred
percent comfortable in front of the class. This was something that I was worried about
prior to the lesson—the ability to feel at ease in front of the students. I was surprisingly
confident at the head of the classroom which confirmed my thoughts about teaching
being the right profession for me. I also think I did a great job answering questions and
explaining correct and incorrect answers. I used a tactic that I have seen Mr. Bruss use
on many occasions. When a student gave an answer, I asked the class whether or not
they agreed. This was done using a thumbs up or thumbs down system . Whichever I
saw the most of I would call on a student to explain why it was correct or vice versa. In
some instances I would have to explain the correction again, but the majority of the time
the peer explanation really helped the incorrect student understand their mistake. In
addition, I felt like the lesson ran very smoothly. There were no awkward pauses in my
instruction, and one part of the lesson flowed without hesitation into another. I had
enough time for the students to actually get into the game yet still managed to have them
clean up in time for them to complete the exit card and record their homework.

Something else I did at the end of the lesson was ask students how comfortable they felt
with the material. I asked them to give me a thumbs up for “I get it” a half and half
thumb for “Eh I think I understand” and a thumbs down for “I have no idea what’s going
on.” I think that using this technique is beneficial for both the teacher and the students—
the teacher receives genuine feedback from students and the students have the
opportunity to complete a learning self check. I plan on using this method a great deal in
my teaching. Finally, I was very thrilled that Mr. Bruss gave me the opportunity the
following day to review the homework I had assigned. I think that hearing the student
responses gave me even more confidence because the majority of the students gave
correct answers. It felt rewarding to see that what I had taught was understood and could
be applied to their homework problems.

Although the lesson was a success, there are a few things I plan to work on. I had
some trouble with obtaining student responses. Many students were eager to respond to
my questions but it was the same few students each time. In order to remedy this, I was
thinking about making a name popsicle stick for each student and pulling a stick each
time I am looking for a response. I think this will allow me to be less worried about
being fair and focus more attention on the questions I ask and the explanation of the
answers I receive. Coupled with this was my apparent lack of wait time. I began the
lesson making sure to count to at least four in my head, but Mr. Bruss and I both noticed
that by the end of the lesson I was asking questions and calling on students all in the same
breath. I think this is just something I need to be more conscious of. Finally, Mr. Bruss
suggested that I make my lesson objectives clear to the class at the start of the lesson.
This is something that made me think about my teaching approach. It is clear to me that
he always starts the class by announcing what is on the agenda for the day which
definitely contributes to structure in the classroom, but I also feel it necessary to do some
inquiry with the students. I think as I get going with teaching everyday, I will be able to
feel it out as to which approach I will be taking.

The seating assignments and my own confidence enabled me to achieve two of
my initial goals. I also believe that I did a fairly good job of teaching the concept of
equivalent fractions to the students. In looking over the seventeen exit cards I received,
ten students provided me with the three fractions equivalent to 8/10 that I asked for. An
additional six students wrote at least one fraction equivalent to 8/10. So, in total, sixteen
out of seventeen students could successfully name at least one fraction equivalent to 8/10.
Furthermore, fifteen out of seventeen students recognized that 3/7 and 6/15 were not
equivalent fractions. This performance data in conjunction with the feedback I received
while going over the homework with the class the following day leads me to believe that
for the most part the students grasped equivalent fractions quite well. I can most
definitely see the value of using exit cards in a classroom, as they were extremely helpful
in judging the student’s overall understanding of the concepts.

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